Terror has been a tool utilized by those maintaining a racial hierarchy across institutions to actively recolonize people within a colonized nation.
Take White privilege and put it on racial steroids, and you will find White people using domestic terror in attempt to recolonize People of Color and reassert a race/gender hierarchy within the United States of America.
This practice of recolonization through terror does not end with White people, either.
In this post, I discuss how domestic acts of terror committed by White people serve as a contemporary tool for recolonizing the United States. Next, I briefly explore how “Good” White People are just as guilty as their hate-filled extremist counterparts in this terror-filled maintenance of racism. Finally, I identify contemporary examples of the self-destructive power of recolonization on People of Color.
Recolonizing Through Terror
Consider the dominant view of terrorism when executed by White people. Many refuse to explore the pattern or a connection to a legacy of White supremacy. They might look at gender, but they will not touch race and gender. I have written about the need to reconceptualize White masculinity here.
When terrorism is White, we do not call it terrorism.
When a White man kills masses of people,
When a White youth does the same,
When a White man murders nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church,
When his sister, threatens a mass shooting, specifically targeting Black people, and gets apprehended carrying guns and weapons to school,
When a White man murders eleven people at Tree of Life Synagogue,
When a White man kills two black people, who are shopping at a grocery store,
We do not call it terrorism.
We call it crazy,
Right-wing extremists, or
Left wing nut jobs.
But it is a contemporary form of terrorism linked to a long past of racialized terrorism used to colonize and maintain racism within the United States of America.
If we keep dismissing patterns of this contemporary terror committed by White people as mental illness, how do you explain the terror acted on Native Americans and enslaved Africans from masses of White people? Are we arguing that all of these White people were mentally ill, or something more insidious played a role or both?
Oh yes, this terror goes way back.
For example, when we explore the story behind the identity markers such as “Indigenous People in the United States” or “Native American,” the names themselves reveal a history of colonialism and the fight to retain one’s existence, culture, dignity, humanity, and place.
The words, “indigenous” and “native,” indicate that “others” arrived and took residence in a preoccupied context.
A large part of this story of the “others” within the United States involves a sordid tale of terror from White individuals, including government-backed efforts.
Yet, today, people feel more connected to keeping their racist “Indian” mascots than unlinking themselves with the narrative of terror and colonization. This act alone shows how we, regardless of good intentions, can be complicit in recolonization.
Is there anything sacred or honorable about colonizing another space or people? Leave it to the ways many of us living the United States are typically taught U.S history, some of us would think it was a heroic tale of White exceptionalism with a few poor choices that are not worth making a stink over.
These tales make a difference.
When you believe these tales and think that one of the most significant issues facing the U.S. is reverse discrimination, you might tend to ignore the patterns of hatred as isolated incidents or call it a mental illness when White people are the perpetrators.
Even if there is mental illness, the individuals directly causing terror drew from a larger disturbing narrative about race in the United States.
The rhetorical, economic, and political forces that supported the mass killings and removal of Native Americans, chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and placed Japanese Americans in concentration camps have yet to be wholly abandoned. Today, these unexplored and unchallenged structures still allow different White people to terrorize the entire country.
Why do numbers upon numbers of White people refuse to explore these issues? Is it because maintaining the longterm economic and social benefits for different White people outweigh the casualties of terror, including the ones who are also White? It wouldn’t be the first time.Remember the Civil War.
Remember Freedom Summer.
Remember Andrew Goodman, Michael Henry Schwerner, and James Earl Chaney.
Remember Viola Liuzzo.
Remember James Reeb.
Remember Charlottesville 2017.
If we really want the hate to stop, we would be more than willing to explore more than mental illness and gender. We would explore race, too. We wouldn’t select the ones that make us feel more comfortable to address.
When Good White People Help Recolonize
Instead of turning from a past of colonization, masses of “Good” White people have been invested in keeping it alive. Some of you are already familiar with the popular construct of “Good” White Christians and people.
These “Good” White people do not commit hate crimes or plan to. As a matter of fact, and thankfully, they detest these actions. They are friendly and polite to people of different racial backgrounds (as long as you do not challenge them on their racial thinking).
“Good” White people are so good that they claim that they “do not see race.”
However, this colorblindness contributes to a massive problem of racism continuing.
This feigned ignorance prevents them from “seeing,” “saying,” or “doing” anything about race that would create a feeling of discomfort for themselves and their self-perception as non-racist.
Consequently, instead of uprooting the system of racism or recolonizing practices to keep it in place, many “Good” White people at the top of the existing invisible racial hierarchy do nothing because they refuse to “see” it at work in the world.
If you are a person committed to personal and/or societal progress, then you are more invested in all aspects of the process instead of an avid commitment to proving that you are a “good person.”
You are a beautiful human who has lived in a world saturated by race.
If you refuse to look at this one thing in your life and pat yourself on the back because you do not lynch people and say the “n-word,” then you keep it alive.
Still, the message of White superiority and acts of hatred do not stop at White people who target People of Color.
When People of Color Support Recolonization
Part of terror’s effectiveness lies in its residual effects. Once set in motion and reinforced with policies to support its decontextualized rhetoric, the recolonized become self-destructive.
When People of Color buy into to the distorted and hateful racial messages, from media to even family, so much so that we enact it on each other, we live as indirect agents of our own recolonization.
That is, evidence of recolonization can be found in People of Color who help to destroy ourselves further.
When we do not unpack the ways we have been shaped by a racialized society, like the “Good” White people, we become complicit in maintaining a racist society.
Do you see how recolonization has taken hold of the consciousness of different People of Color?
The impact of recolonization on the minds of People of Color looks like sending bombs in packages to prominent critics of the President of the U.S. to help “Make America Great Again.”
It looks like a Black woman assaulting a 91-year-old Mexican man, telling him to go return to his country.
It looks like Latino street gang members firebombing Black families who reside in a Los Angeles housing project.
It looks like a South Korean restaurant owner slapping a Black woman who was an employee because a patron demanded an $8.47 refund.
It looks like two teenagers, one of whom is confirmed as a Black male, assaulting a 71-year-old Sikh man wearing a turban.
It looks like affluent People of Color enacting the same White Good Ol’ Boys club that we critique.
People of Color help pick up the torch, fan the flames, and keep the recolonizing hate alive that leaves institutional racism untouched.
It looks like divide and conquer to me.
It looks like various People of Color can benefit from decolonizing our minds.
It is a matter of life and freedom.
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